Convergence of synaptic pathophysiology in the Hippocampus of Fmr1-/y and Syngap1+/- Mice
Barnes, Stephanie A.
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The genetic causes of intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are frequently associated with mutations in genes that encode synaptic proteins. A recent screen of ID patients has revealed that approximately 4% of individuals carry spontaneous autosomal-dominant de novo mutations in the SYNGAP1 gene. This gene encodes the synaptic GTPase activating protein (SYNGAP) a known regulator of Ras signalling. Investigations into the pathological consequences of Syngap1 haploinsufficiency (Syngap+/−) in mice have reported abnormalities in behaviour, synaptic plasticity and dendritic spine development. These are analogous to findings from the mouse model of fragile X syndrome (FXS; Fmr1-/y), the most common inherited form of ID. One of the prominent phenotypes reported in the mouse model of FXS is that a form of hippocampal long-term depression (LTD) mediated by the activation of Group 1 (Gp1) metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors is enhanced and independent of new protein synthesis (Huber et al. 2002; Nosyreva et al. 2006). The cause of these synaptic plasticity deficits together with other cognitive abnormalities observed in FXS are thought to arise, in part, from excessive protein synthesis, the consequence of altered mGlu5 receptor signalling via the Ras-ERK1/2 signalling pathway. Enhanced protein synthesis rates in Fmr1-/y mice can be corrected by either inhibiting mGlu5 receptors or reducing Ras and subsequent ERK1/2 activity (Osterweil et al. 2013). In this thesis mGluR-dependent LTD was examined at Schaffer collateral/commissural inputs to CA1 pyramidal neurones in hippocampal slices obtained from Fmr1-/y, Syngap+/− and Fmr1-/ySyngap+/− double mutant mice. Extracellular field recordings reveal that acute application of the Gp1 mGluR agonist dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) induces a form of mGluR-dependent LTD that is enhanced and independent of new protein synthesis in CA1 of Fmr1-/y mice. In Syngap+/− mice, the magnitude of mGluR-dependent LTD is also significantly increased relative to WT littermates and insensitive to protein synthesis inhibitors. Furthermore, in the Fmr1-/ySyngap+/− double mutant, Syngap haploinsufficiency occludes the increase in mGluR-dependent LTD caused by the loss of FMRP. In addition, metabolic labelling studies reveal basal protein synthesis rates to be modestly enhanced in the hippocampus of Fmr1-/y mice compared to WT mice. Importantly this phenotype translates to the rat model of FXS. In Syngap+/- hippocampal slices, basal protein synthesis rates are also significantly elevated compared to WT counterparts. Interestingly, elevated basal protein synthesis rates in Syngap+/- mice could be corrected in the hippocampus by similarly pharmacological strategies employed in Fmr1-/y mice. The comparable neuropathophysiology we observe between Syngap+/− and Fmr1-/y mice suggests that SYNGAP and fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) may converge on similar biochemical pathways raising the intriguing possibility that therapeutic strategies used in the treatment of FXS may also be of benefit in treating individuals with ID caused by mutations in SYNGAP1.